Home > DNA in the News > Privacy and New DNA Testing Methods

Privacy and New DNA Testing Methods

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 28 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Privacy Dna Forensics Racial Background

With the advent of DNA technology, privacy issues are nothing new. For years now there has been debate over how information about our DNA is used, particularly in the area of forensics and crime.

New Ways to Solve Crime

A newer method of DNA testing comes with the expected controversy as many other types of DNA tests – perhaps more so because it investigates a person's racial heritage. Once the word 'race' is used, people may even shy from what could be useful technology because they fear being involved in any controversy.

To understand the use for this kind of DNA technology, consider an incident that occurred approximately eight years ago. Police in the United States were searching for a serial killer who they believed had killed three women. After analysing a profile generated by an internal police expert combined with a report from an eyewitness, police were originally seeking a white male.

The forensics team took DNA samples from more than one thousand white males but ultimately they did not find anything useful in terms of evidence for who committed the crime. During all of this upheaval, the serial killer made another killing.

New Evidence from DNA Testing

The following year, police met with a biologist who indicated that a new DNA analysis test could tell police a suspect's race. While there were doubts about whether the test was genuine, it soon became clear that the biologist could indeed test for a suspect's race.

DNA testing from the crime scenes showed that the killer was definitely not a Caucasian male but instead, was possibly African-American. Police were able to look elsewhere for a suspect and soon found a match with a man who was well-known to police and had an extensive criminal record.

Understanding Race Testing

The DNA test in question looks at DNA on a number of places in the human genome. There are specific sequences at the hundreds of points that would be mostly found in people of certain heritages. Rather than one single sequence identifying a person, a number of them indicate a more accurate result pointing to a person's unique heritage.

There are still some major challenges involved with the test. Although it has since been used in hundreds of cases, the test was an extremely expensive one. Plus, whenever race is involved – particularly in the police force – there tends to be more discomfort and uncertainty about using this kind of DNA technology.

The idea of determining a person's racial background from a test is an idea that bothers many people. They believe it will mean that soon racists will begin to use that information to support the idea that one race is superior to another. However the information is simply used in the way that eye colour or hair colour are used to narrow down a potential suspect for a crime.

Current Uses for the DNA Test

Today, the DNA test for finding out a person's background is a commercially available one. Although still relatively new to the market, it is being used by people who are unsure of their family tree and want to find out their racial heritage.

Others want to find out their background because they might qualify for financial aid programs aimed at aspiring university students from minority backgrounds. The subject of race will likely continue to be a touchy one but for many people, this kind of DNA testing is important for use in the police force or for a person's own needs in finding out their heritage.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Rebekka
    Re: DNA and Air Crash Victims
    How does one obtain dna for ancestral testing from a body that's been embalmed? They are holding the body while I find out. Can you…
    26 April 2019
  • Nikita
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    Hello, I just saw your tests online. Great!! I am wondering my mother died about 20 years ago. I have 1/2 of her ashes. I am trying to find…
    29 March 2019
  • Morgz
    Re: An Overview of DNA Functions
    GO CHECK OUT MY NEW CLICKBAIT FORTNITE CHANNEL!!! MORGZCLICKBAITY
    26 March 2019
  • Shegzysnoop
    Re: Using DNA and for Immigration Purposes
    My dna is part of the document that was receive by the consulate from my lawyer in Chicago but surprisingly afelter…
    20 March 2019
  • yoda gaming
    Re: An Overview of DNA Functions
    game i must 3 weeks left to live i have took the kids she has
    19 March 2019
  • Lannette
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My son was killed n 2018 and was buried can or shall I say could we get a good enough DNA to see if a child who's going on 10 next month…
    14 March 2019
  • Emilina C.
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My uncle died in March 2017 and there is a probable theory that he was murdered by his wife due to the fact that his reason for being sent to…
    14 March 2019
  • lora
    Re: Using DNA and for Immigration Purposes
    my husband is petioning me, we went our different ways but we werent divorced , i had my son while i was married but…
    14 March 2019
  • Jem
    Re: DNA and Disease Prediction
    Nice work it really helped me with the big project I'm doing in May.
    11 March 2019
  • Brat
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My daughters father just died yesterday he hasn't been buried or cremated is there any way that we could still do a DNA test to prove he is…
    9 March 2019